- New work models require a new approach to talent management.
- Keren Rubin, a former food engineer turned VP of PeopleOps at Augury, has applied engineering concepts to people management.
- As a result, employee performance has improved and 48% of the company’s new hires are based on employee referrals.
New work models require a new approach to talent management. Organizations across the globe are starting to realize that a paycheck is no longer enough to attract and retain top talent. In a labor market where people are not afraid to quit and where desired skills are scarce, companies are having to take a hard look at their culture and how they engage with employees to ensure that workers are satisfied, happy, and motivated.
Keren Rubin, a former food engineer turned VP of PeopleOps, has applied engineering concepts to people management. The result? A team of highly motivated and engaged employees.
Rubin’s process-driven approach to people management has strengthened company culture and resulted in a lot of employee referrals—currently, 48% of the company’s new hires are based on employee referrals.
Allwork.Space spoke with Keren Rubin, VP of PeopleOps at Augury about her people management system routed in data, why offices need to be redesigned, and how hybrid work is affecting distributed teams.
Allwork.Space: As an engineer, what prompted you to pursue a degree in organizational behavior?
Keren Rubin: As a food engineer, my job focused on creating new products, designing systems and processes to solve problems, and streamlining inefficiencies. While in this role, I spent just as much time understanding the ins and outs of an organization as I did in investigating and developing new products; but I liked it!
In a sense, my role as VP of PeopleOps is actually quite similar to my engineering role. The way I see it, an organization is a system (just like those that I would create for factories).
At the end of the day, I discovered that I preferred building processes that help people work in a way that’s best for them.
Allwork.Space: You mention there are some similarities between your role as VP of PeopleOps and your previous engineering role. How does your engineering background influence your role as VP of PeopleOps and your approach to organizational culture?
As an engineer, I developed new products and the system and processes to produce them at scale. This is a value that carries over to my work with our People Ops team. Organizations can’t succeed without their people, so helping to build the infrastructure that optimizes employee motivation, creativity, and performance is truly the recipe for our company’s long-term success.
One of my favorite engineering principles is Gall’s Law which states that, “all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked.”
I’ve found this principle to be extremely relevant to our work in People Ops and scaling the company.
If you think about an organization as a system that you’re building, it’s important to create methods that work for where your company is currently at, and then evolve it over time. When I first joined Augury, the company had just raised their Series A funding and had a team of about 20 employees. Fast forward five years and we’ve completed a Series D funding, have multiple Fortune 500 companies as customers, and have a team that has increased ten-fold.
We were able to do this because we initially created frameworks that worked for our team when it was smaller, and we tweaked and scaled it as we grew.
Additionally, I would say that we’ve adapted the agile framework into the way that our People Ops team builds our processes. From hiring to performance management, we work in sprints and iterations. We create a minimum viable product (MVP), which is a simple process. Then we measure and review what is working and what isn’t before iterating and improving it during the next round.
Allwork.Space: As I understand, one of those iterations is that Augury is now hiring a workplace experience director. Can you tell us more about this decision?
One of our initiatives over the past year – like most other tech companies – was building out our hybrid workplace model. This isn’t just about COVID-related constraints, it’s about growing a global and geographically diverse team.
When the pandemic drove us out of our office, it presented an opportunity to reevaluate the status quo and redefine how we work, live, and interact with the world.
Augury has been experimenting with the hybrid setup in our co-HQs in Israel and NYC over the past year. The role of our workplace experience director will be to create hybrid work as a system that connects physical and digital spaces, provides training for skills, and implements new communication methods and collaboration tools.
We were looking for someone resourceful and creative. Since there is no clear playbook around hybrid work, it’s up to us to create something new that will work for our culture and our employees.
Allwork.Space: Since Augury is fully embracing hybrid work and is preparing for it by hiring a workplace experience director, how do you believe the workplace experience will be different in the future?
Hybrid is an integral part of our company culture; it’s who we are and how we work. Every company is currently working on what their future office plans will look like, but it’s pretty clear that being in the office five days a week is a thing of the past.
The pandemic helped us evaluate our office needs and identify the true purpose of having a communal space: group work and collaboration.
Augury is currently scoping out space for our New York City headquarters. As we seek a new location, we are focused on creating a space that will serve as an innovation hub, rather than an office. This is about building relationships and breeding creativity.
We’ve heard from employees that they prefer working day-to-day remotely, but that they value facetime for milestone moments, so this is exactly what Augury is doing. We’ll be working from home 80% of the time, which will enable employees to spend more time with family and increase work-life-balance and focus.
Our New York office space will be treated as an offsite- you can really imagine it as a conference center where the company gathers for brainstorming, key moments, and training sessions.
Allwork.Space: Beyond reimagining the physical workplace, what are some key changes you believe organizations will have to make in order to better support remote and hybrid workers?
Every company needs to figure out what their employees’ needs are and what their unique value proposition to prospective employees is. Hybrid work is here to stay, but, over time, hybrid work arrangements by themselves will not be a differentiator or competitive advantage for organizations.
That being said, every company must make some changes to better support remote and hybrid workers. At Augury, we often use the RAMP motivation framework when planning:
- Relatedness: We’ve heard from employees that they value in-person interactions for key moments. Because of this, we’ve been focusing on how to create a digital space that can simulate face-to-face interactions (beyond Zoom of course).
- Autonomy: Employees like the autonomy that working remotely provides them. We’re investing more in providing business related context, so that everyone has the knowledge they need to build and make decisions as they’re working remotely.
- Mastery: To have successful hybrid employees, they need to master the skills that will give them the autonomy to be successful. For my team, this means identifying training opportunities in a global hybrid environment. Two training sessions we’ve invested in are about how to run better meetings (especially virtual ones) and how to write well. We’re moving more towards asynchronous communication (this is about growing globally and are investing in training everyone to change the way we communicate.
- Purpose: How do we gather the team around a shared vision? This is a broader goal, but transparent communication and structure goes a long way towards achieving it. Our two rituals are company All Hands and our CEO weekly letter, where we talk about company strategy and focus areas, share what different teams are working on, track goals, and address any questions the teams have.
Allwork.Space: It seems like you guys have it figured out! Anything else you’d like to add?
When we think about why people join a company and why they stay, we think about the notion of everyday value. This is derived from how we think about people who use products.
The analogy is that employees are daily active users, and the company (system and process) is like a product they use, every day. Whenever we use a product, whether that’s Google Maps or LinkedIn, it’s because we gain some value from it.
So, we ask ourselves, what is the value each person is gaining from being a part of our company? Our culture, the way we work, and our people processes are designed accordingly to meet these needs.